As we wrap up 2022, it’s important to take a closer look at your tax and financial plans and review steps that can be taken to reduce taxes and help you save for your future. Though there has been a lot of political attention to tax law changes, inflation and environmental sustainability, political compromise has led to smaller impacts on individual taxes this year.
However, with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, there are new tax incentives for you to consider. There are also several tax provisions that have expired or will expire soon. We continue to closely monitor any potential extensions or changes in tax legislation and will update you accordingly.
Here’s a look at some potential planning ideas for individuals to consider as we approach year-end:
Charitable Contribution Planning
If you’re planning to donate to a charity, it may be better to make your contribution before the end of the year to potentially save on taxes. There are many tax planning strategies related to charitable giving. For example, if you give gifts larger than $5,000 to a single organization, consider donating appreciated assets (such as stock, exchange-traded funds, or mutual funds) that have been held for more than one year, rather than cash. That way, you’ll get a deduction for the full fair market value while side-stepping the capital gains taxes on the gain.
Because of the large standard deduction, bunching deductions every other year might give you a higher itemized deduction than the standard deduction. One way to do this is by opening and funding a donor-advised fund (DAF). A DAF is appealing to many as it allows for a tax-deductible gift in the current year for your entire contribution. You can then grant those funds to your favorite charities over multiple years. If you give $2,000 or more a year to charity, talk to us about setting up a DAF.
Qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) are another option for certain older taxpayers who don’t typically itemize on their tax returns. If you’re over age 70.5, you’re eligible to make charitable contributions directly from your IRA, which essentially makes charitable contributions deductible (for both federal and most state tax purposes) regardless of whether you itemize or not. In addition, it reduces future required minimum distributions, reducing overall taxable income in future years. QCDs keep income out of your tax return, making income-sensitive deductions (such as medical expenses) more viable, lowers the taxes on your social security income, and can lower your overall tax rate.
Last year, individuals who did not itemize their deductions could take a charitable contribution deduction of up to $300 ($600 for joint filers). However, this opportunity is no longer available for tax year 2022 (and future years).
Note that it’s important to have adequate documentation of all donations, including a letter or detailed receipt from the charity for donations of $250 or more. That letter/receipt must include your name, the taxpayer identification number of the institution, the amount, and a declaration of whether you received anything of value in exchange for the contribution.
Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)
Tax rules don’t allow you to keep retirement funds in your accounts indefinitely. RMDs are the minimum amount you must annually withdraw from your retirement accounts once you reach a certain age (generally age 72). The RMD is calculated and based on the value of the account at the end of the prior tax year multiplied by a percentage from the IRS’ life expectancy tables. Failure to take your RMD can result in steep tax penalties–as much as 50% of the undistributed amount.
Retirement withdrawals obviously have tax impacts. As mentioned above, you can send retirement funds to a qualified charity to satisfy the RMD and potentially avoid taxes.
Effective for the 2022 tax year, the IRS has issued new life expectancy tables, resulting in lower annual RMD amounts. We can help you calculate any RMDs to take this year and plan for any tax exposure.
Digital Assets and Virtual Currency
Digital assets are defined under the U.S. income tax rules as “any digital representation of value that may function as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and/or a store of value.” Digital assets may include virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, Stablecoins such as Tether and USD Coin (USDC), and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Unlike stocks or other investments, the IRS considers digital assets and virtual currencies as property, not as capital assets. As such, they are subject to a different set of rules than your typical investments. The sale or exchange of virtual currencies, the use of such currencies to pay for goods or services, or holding such currencies as an investment, generally have tax impacts –– and the IRS continues to increase its scrutiny in this area. We can help you understand any tax and investment consequences, which can be quite convoluted.
Energy Tax Credits
From electric vehicles to solar panels, “going green” continues to provide tax incentives. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 included new and newly expanded tax credits for solar panels, electric vehicles, and energy-efficient home improvements. The rules are complex, and some elements of the law are not effective until 2023, so careful research and planning now can be beneficial. For example, previously ineligible electric vehicles are now eligible for credits, while other eligible vehicles are now ineligible for credits if they don’t contain the right proportion of parts and assembly in the United States.
Additional Tax and Financial Planning Considerations
We recommend that you review your retirement plans at least annually. That includes making the most of tax-advantaged retirement saving options, such as traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs), Roth IRAs, and company retirement plans. It’s also advisable to take advantage of and maximize health savings accounts (HSAs) that can help you reduce your taxes and save for medical-related expenses.
Also, if you withdrew a Coronavirus distribution of up to $100,000 in 2020, you’ll need to report the final one-third amount on your 2022 return (unless you elected to report the entire distribution in 2020 or have re-contributed the funds to a retirement account). If you took a distribution, you could return all or part of the distribution to a retirement account within three years, which will be a date in 2023.
We can work with you to strategize a plan to help restore and build your retirement savings and determine whether you’re on target to reach your goals.
Here are a few more tax and financial planning items to discuss with us:
- Life changes –– Let us (or your current financial planner) know about any major changes in your life such as marriages or divorces, births or deaths in the family, job or employment changes, starting a business, and significant capital expenditures (such as real estate purchases, college tuition payments, etc.).
- Capital gains/losses –– Consider tax benefits related to harvesting capital losses to offset realized capital gains, if possible. Net capital losses (the result when capital losses exceed capital gains for the year) can offset up to $3,000 of the current year’s ordinary income (salary, self-employment income, interest, dividends, etc.) The unused excess net capital loss can be carried forward to be used in subsequent years. Consider harvesting some capital gains if you have a large capital loss from the current or prior years.
- Estate and gift tax planning ––There is an annual exclusion for gifts ($16,000 per donee in 2022, $32,000 for married couples) to help save on potential future estate taxes. While you can give much more without incurring any gift tax, any total annual gift to one individual larger than $16,000/$32,000 requires the filing of a gift tax return (with your form 1040). Note that the filing of a gift tax return is an obligation of the giver, not the recipient of the gift. The annual exclusion for 2023 gifts increases to $17,000/$34,000.
- State and local taxes –– Many people are now working from home (i.e., teleworking). Such remote working arrangements could potentially have state or local tax implications that should be considered. Working in one state for an employer located in another state may have unexpected state tax consequences. Also, ordering merchandise over the internet without paying sales or use tax might obligate you to remit a use tax to your home state.
- Education planning –– Consider a Section 529 education savings plan to help save for college or other K-12 education. While there is no federal income tax deduction for the contributions, there can be state income tax benefits (full or partial deductions) for doing so. Funds grow tax-free over many years are distributed tax-free when used for qualified education purposes. Lower-income taxpayers (less than $85,800 if single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er); $128,650 if married filing jointly) can redeem certain types of United States savings bonds tax-free when redeemed for college.
- Updates to financial records –– Tax time is the ideal time to review whether any updates are needed to your insurance policies or various beneficiary designations (life insurance, annuity, IRA, 401(k), etc.)
- Last Call for 401(k), 403(b) & Other retirement Plan Contributions–– Once the calendar turns to 2023, it’s too late to maximize your employer plan contributions. It may not be too late to make sure that you’ve contributed the $20,500 maximum (plus $6,500 for those age 50 and older) to the plan. Review your last pay stub and check with your human resources or retirement plan website to see if you can still increase your current year contributions. Remember, if you’ve worked for more than one employer in 2022, your total contributions via all employers cannot exceed the annual maximum, so you must monitor this. For IRAs, you have until April 18, 2023, to make up to a $6,000 contribution for 2022 (plus $1,000 catch-up contribution for those age 50 and older)
- Roth IRA conversions –– Depending on your current year highest tax rate, it may be prudent to consider converting part of your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA to lock in lower tax rates on some of your pre-tax retirement accounts. A conversion is nothing more than a taxable distribution from your IRA which is immediately deposited into your Roth IRA (while income taxes apply, no early withdrawal penalty applies). Roth conversions can help reduce future required minimum distributions and help keep future Medicare premiums lower. The ideal time to consider Roth conversions is after you retire and before you start collecting your pension or social security checks.
- Estimated tax payments –– Review your year-to-date withholding and estimated tax payments to assess whether a 4th quarter 2022 estimated tax payment might be required. An easy way to do this is to compare the total tax line on your 2021 income tax return with your total withholding and estimated payments (total payments) made to date. If your total payments made to date is at least 110% of your 2021 total tax, chances are, you are adequately paid in. While you may owe some tax with the filing of your 2022 return (due on April 18, 2023), you likely won’t owe any penalties for underpayment of estimated tax.
Year-End Planning Means Fewer Surprises
Whether it’s working toward a tax-optimized retirement or getting answers to your tax and financial planning questions, we’re here to help. As always, planning can help you anticipate and minimize your tax bill and position your family and you for greater financial success.